That was the year that was. The deepest recession in history, unprecedented industry interference from the food regulator, a series of big name chains toppling like dominoes not to mention a glut of biscuit-related scandals (more of that later), and well, looking back, it could have been a lot worse. In fact, over the course of the year, the number of good news stories among bakery retailers and manufacturers far outweighed the bad, which goes to show it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

British Baker firsts
l Bakers’ Review joins BB (Jan)
l We organise the first-ever National Craft Bakers’ Week alongside the NAMB (June)
l BB launches National Cupcake Week, which takes off as a blogging sensation (Sep)
l BB supports the new Café+ show (Mar)
l Kevin Sibley of newcomer Mama’s Cakes wins the first ever BB National Cupcake-off with a Black Forest Cupcake (Aug)
l The Baking Industry Awards, fronted by comedy legend and bakers’ son Ronnie Corbett, sells out in record time, with WC Rowe’s Alan Pearce scooping the top prize Baker of the Year, sponsored by Vandemoortele (Sep)
What recession? Still going strong
l Cooplands (Doncaster) branches out into wholesale for the first time (16 Jan)
l La Crème Patisserie expands wholesale and retail (16 Jan)
l Jacksons eyes new wholesale with £1.2m bakery opening (30 Jan)
l West Cornwall Pasty Co announces plans for 15 more shops (13 Feb)
l 25-shop Esquires Coffee Houses has plans for eight more (13 Feb)
l Kerrs Bakery opens £1m factory (27 Feb)
l The Bread Factory doubles capacity (13 Mar)
l PV France spends £1.2m on Anglesey bakery (13 Mar)
l Wholesale giant Brakes launches bakery division La Boulangerie to target foodservice (27 Mar)
l James Allen Bakers adds two new shops with sales up 30% (24 Apr)
l Wenzels adds five new shops (8 May)
l Country Style doubles artisan bread-making capacity with new plant (22 May)
l Maison Blanc acquires new outlets as Raymond Blanc returns (22 May)
l Pie firm Cappell’s Fine Foods eyes a quadrupling of turnover following its sale (5 Jun)
l Giles Foods opens a sweet bakery plant with a £1.5m equipment investment (5 Jun)
l Belgique plans to go from eight to 25 shops in three years (5 Jun)
l Pasty Presto expands with £1.5m backing (3 Jul)
l Nicholas & Harris buys Goswell’s Bakeries including the Vogel’s brand (3 Jul)
l Baguette Express looks to grow from 55 to 300 outlets in three years (11 Jul)
l Café-bakery chain Cinnabon wants to open 40 stores in five years (14 Aug)
l EAT plans to double stores to 200 in three-five years (28 Aug)
l Greggs doubles its annual store opening target to 50-60 (23 Oct)
l Cooplands (Doncaster) aims to double in size within five years (6 Nov)
l Milligans views five new stores (20 Nov)

The future of skills brightens
l Scottish Association of Master Bakers moves into England and Northern Ireland to offer training (27 Feb)
l The National Skills Academy develops pilot modules for a new Professional Bakery course (17 Jul)
l Bakery college enrolments soar by up to 160% (9 Oct)
l The Skills Academy pilot course is launched (9 Oct)

Down but not out, bakery retailers and producers survive administration
l The Bagel Group (30 Jan)
l Baker & Spice (27 Feb)
l O’Briens’ Irish arm (3 Jul)
l Coombs Hampshires (17 Jul)
l Coffee Republic (17 Jul)
l BB’s Coffee & Muffins
l Firkins (4 Dec)

Buzzwords come and buzzwords go
l 2009 starts with news that ’natural’ features on two-fifths of UK bakery product launches (16 Jan)
l ’Cupcakes’ is the fastest-growing recipe search on Google in the UK (16 Jan)
l ’Corporate Social Responsibility’, or CSR, drops from third to 13th on food execs’ list of challenges ahead (16 Jan)
l ’BOGOFs’ are tarnished by a report that suggests they contribute to 30% of all food waste (28 Aug)

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) earns its keep
l Bakery, coffee shop and sandwich chains are pushed to make healthy eating commitments (13 Mar)
l FSA plans to introduce sat fat reduction targets; meanwhile, 18 retailers sign up to trial calorie labelling in store (May)
l Industry is angered by a demand for calorie reduction as part of its consultation on sat fat reduction in sweet baked goods (14 Aug)
l FSA opens consultation on front-of-pack labelling (14 Aug)
l FSA issues guidance on whether it’s good or not to eat ham sarnies the answer is ’yes, but not too often’ (28 Aug)
l An anti-salt poster campaign is launched featuring bread, which angers just about everybody (9 Oct)
l FSA recommends folic acid fortification despite Ireland rejecting it (23 Oct)
l A second wave of consultations on sat fats in savoury products is announced (6 Nov)
l Independent bakery retailers say they would struggle to implement calorie labelling (4 Dec)

but goes too far for some
"By saying we don’t think we can meet the 2012 targets, we are being honest. It would be disingenuous to say we can meet them when we can’t"
Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson on FSA salt targets
"Although the FSA has stayed away from calling its recommendations ’targets’, we believe they have taken an approach that is too prescriptive"
Barbara Gallani of the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate & Confectionery sector of the Food & Drink Federation on sat fat/calorie reduction
"EU law on free trade prevents the UK from legislating for maximum salt in bread"
Owen Warnock, law firm Eversheds
A year in numbers
l BB’s annual league table of bakery retailers shows Subway is the fastest-growing, adding 264 UK outlets in 2008 and catching up fast on leader Greggs. Coffee Republic doubles its outlets in a year (16 Jan)
l UK bread prices drop down the world rankings from 70th to 83rd despite ingredients cost rises (30 Jan)
l Food processors’ cost base goes up 16% in 2008, but producers of staples such as bread are hardest-hit when passing on costs to retailers, according to a Rabobank report (30 Jan)
l Organic bread sales drop 21% (10 Apr)
l 77% of ’industry decision-makers’ say coffee shops need to enhance their food offering, as opposed to 6% who disagree (5 Jun)
l Cupcake sales rise 22% in the year prior to National Cupcake Week (19 Jun)
l Exports of biscuits shoot up by 15.3% and cakes up by 12% (19 Jun)
l Bakery retail price inflation runs at 5.6% half that of total food price inflation at 12% as retailers hold prices on staples (22 May)
l 12% of retail units are now vacant (31 Jul)
l A long-term declining trend of fewer bakery products consumed at breakfast was turned around, growing by 2.6% (25 Sep)
l The number of bakery manufacturing businesses in the UK rises from 1,815 to 1,915 (9 Oct)
l Multiple in-store bakeries see sales rise 4.8% (6 Nov)
l Sales of gluten-free bread soar by 55% (4 Dec)

Biscuitgate, parts 1-4
l "Fruit was flown in from Paris daily, meat had to come all the way from Yorkes Butchers in Dundee, while the incorrect choice of biscuits for the executives’ afternoon tea was a disciplinary offence. The inclusion of pink wafers on one occasion led to a stern memo headlined ’Rogue Biscuits’"
as if disgraced former RBS chief Sir Fred Goodwin didn’t have enough to worry about, an ex-employee of scandal-hit RBS blew the whistle in The Sunday Times on the ’Biscuitgate’ scandal (27 Mar)
l "When I told her the posh chocolate biscuits had been listed in the press, she retorted ’Well, you don’t expect me to eat Family Circle under this kind of pressure do you?’ No, I don’t, because she has been bang on in her judgment and the way she has handled our office accounts"
expenses scandal-hit Mid Beds MP Nadine Dorries attributed a taxpayer cost of £34.38 for two packs of luxury biscuits to her office administrator Pippa, "who does have one flaw biscuits", after MPs expenses claims were made public (3 Jul)
l "The chocolate HobNob and custard cream of late night telly"
More controversial biscuit-related copy, as late-night political TV presenter Andrew Neil introduced co-hosts Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo with this ill-advised epithet (6 Nov)
l "I missed the Mumsnet question about biscuits: the answer is absolutely anything with a bit of chocolate on it, but I am trying very hard to cut down"
Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally caved in by issuing a statement on Twitter after failing to answer the burning question of our times, ’What is your favourite biscuit?’, posed on 12 separate occasions in an interview on (23 Oct)